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DoT identifies surplus BSNL, MTNL properties for sale to govt departments

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has identified surplus land parcels and buildings belonging to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) across the country and those of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in Delhi and Mumbai for outright sale to government departments, public sector undertakings, and government organisations. This was conveyed by a communication on May 21 by DoT Secretary Neeraj Mittal to all secretaries in central ministries and chief secretaries of states and Union Territories.

He informed them that BSNL has created a website listing all the land parcels and buildings up for outright sale across the country.

Mittal requested the secretaries and the chief secretaries to issue instructions ensuring greater publicity of the website among various departments, PSUs, and government organisations. He said this scheme would benefit government organisations in need of such properties.

The government has listed over 100 properties of MTNL for outright sale through an auction process. These include 48 properties in Delhi and 52 in Maharashtra, including Mumbai. Notable properties include those in Connaught Place (New Delhi), the well-known MTNL Telephone House in Prabhadevi (Mumbai), and the Telephone Bhavan in Colaba (Mumbai). Other properties are located in Powai, Andheri, Bandra, Mulund, Vashi, and Worli in Mumbai. More than 530 buildings/land have been identified in other states across the country.

In 2019, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal for the revival of BSNL and MTNL, which included monetising its surplus land and buildings assets. This was followed by a second package of around Rs 1.64 trillion in 2022, focusing on infusing fresh capital, restructuring debt, and viability gap funding for rural telephony.

Sources suggest that the properties could fetch the government over Rs 20,000 crore. The government had earlier criticised BSNL and MTNL for the slow pace of monetisation of land parcels and asked them to expedite the process.

The restructuring has enabled BSNL to launch its 4G services in limited parts of the country for the first time, using indigenous technology from the Tata-CDOT combine. Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw revealed that it has already acquired 800,000 subscribers on 4G in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. He expects the core of the network to be rolled out from August in the west, south, and east, with a nationwide rollout to begin during the festival season. He also announced plans to roll out 5G services within a year. Business Standard

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